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Fifth Edition of ‘The Evidence’: Do Peacebuilding Practices Exclude Women?

June 27, 2024 287

This month’s installment of The Evidence newsletter puts post-war conflict resolution practices under the microscope – taking a closer look at how women are adversely affected by these peacebuilding exercises.

Researchers studying post-conflict landscapes in Nepal and Sri Lanka have observed that women are more skeptical of certain reconciliation processes than men.

This was a surprising discovery; after all, it’s well-known that women’s movements often play a fundamental role in establishing peace talks between warring groups. So why are these exercises failing to engage women? Journalist Josephine Lethbridge gathers the evidence and examines what needs to change.

Karen Brounéus, who led a study into the gendered outcomes of peace talks, saw the deleterious effects of certain approaches to truth-telling when working in Rwanda. Local communities were required to meet and reflect on wartime atrocities. Many of the women forced into sharing their stories were stigmatized, harassed, threatened, and even killed.

It’s precisely these local – as opposed to national – resolution exercises that leave women feeling disaffected. Worryingly, such practices are often mandated by international bodies tasked with restoring peace.

Brounéus argues that “the international community often takes too much of a cookie-cutter or box-ticking approach, and this approach is often blind to the particular needs and insecurities of women.”

This has clearly been the case in Nepal, where peace negotiations have served to reinscribe oppressive gender norms. Historically, women in Nepal had shown high levels of political engagement: 33 percent of Maoist rebels were women. However, in reintegration programs, women were excluded from high-level talks and given gender-stereotypical tasks such as sewing and hairdressing.

For Brounéus, it’s vital that we “begin hearing, lifting, empowering those who are getting on with life and working for peace in the seemingly smallest of ways.” We must rework post-conflict resolution talks and provide better support to the silenced and marginalized female victims of war.

These changes could have a powerful impact, helping to create lasting peace and reminding us all that “we want to live with kindness, compassion, care, in peacefulness.”

Read this month’s full newsletter. An archive of previous issues can be accessed through Social Science Space.

Sage – the parent of Social Science Space – sponsors The Evidence, a bold new feminist newsletter that covers everything you need to know about the latest social and behavioral science research into gender inequality. The newsletter makes research accessible and understandable, empowering readers to respond to today’s crises by making changes in their communities, their workplaces, or in the laws of their country.

Joe Sweeney is a corporate communications at Sage. Prior to working for Sage he earned a master’s degree in English literature, with a focus on photography, architecture, and fiction writing from 1900—present.

View all posts by Joe Sweeney

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